Lionel Messi turns 35 today. That is probably the least impressive number related to him. The Paris Saint-Germain forward has assembled more numbers than The Count on Sesame Street, shifting perceptions of what is possible for a player to achieve in a single career. Spurred on by great rival and fellow digit-gobbler Cristiano Ronaldo, almost all of the old records have fallen. Here are just a few of the stunning metrics in which Messi leads the pack.
The La Liga Records
Messi and Barcelona just worked. Like salt and vinegar, Hall & Oates or Robbie Williams and Jonathan Wilkes. The bond between the Catalan super-club and the diminutive Argentine was so strong that even a year removed from his switch to PSG, it still feels unsettling to see Messi in another club’s shirt.
The success of this union can be seen in the roll call of La Liga records Messi broke during his time at Camp Nou. The man many refer to simply as ‘GOAT’ has scored more La Liga goals than any other player in history, with 474.
50 of these strikes arrived during the 2011/12 season, the most by any player in a single La Liga campaign. 36 times he scored a league hat-trick for Barcelona, another divisional record.
Judging by these frightening statistics it is easy to forget Messi is not an out-and-out centre forward. A free-flowing attacking influence unbound by position, Leo also holds the La Liga assist record, laying on 192 goals for teammates.
The European Records
As well as illuminating the Spanish domestic scene, Messi has also made the Champions League his personal plaything over the years. The Argentina international holds the competition record for group stage goals with 76. Old foe Ronaldo runs him close on that score with 73, but considering the United star will not be playing in the competition next season, Messi’s milestone is safe for now. He also leads the way for hat-tricks with eight.
The Incredible Records
We’ve seen how Messi dominated La Liga football and European football. Here’s a few statistics that show how Messi simply dominates football.
His tally of 672 Barcelona goals is the most any player has scored for a single club. Messi’s 26 strikes against Real Madrid is the record tally for any player in El Clasico games. The forward’s record 2012, in which he scored 91 goals, is another that looks sure to stand for decades to come.
The Award Records
Messi has an incredible amount of hardware to back up his incredible era as football’s leading man. He holds the record for Ballon d’Or wins, with 2021 gong marking his seventh. But if that cabinet-bursting haul wasn’t enough, Messi has also racked up six European Golden Shoes, awarded to the top scorer across Europe’s major leagues.
Simply put, Messi has changed the way we perceive football. The Rosario-born, La Masia-raised superstar has altered the very nature of his sport by achieving things no man has been, or perhaps even will be, able to match. The greatest of all-time? Perhaps. One of a kind? Undoubtedly.
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